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Personal Branding | A True Life Story

This post was most recently updated on March 26th, 2014


Personal BrandingPersonal branding is the way you present yourself  to your readers, visitors and customers/clients.  

Everything we do on our blogs and websites contributes to the image that people get of you.  I teach bloggers to carefully decide which pictures and images to use on their sites, what content to offer, what sort of header, title, and subtitle to use, what header image to use such as a personal photo, and so forth and so on.  

There are so many things to consider that will have an impact on your personal branding efforts.  I’ve just given you a few of the obvious examples, here.

But some of the things on your blog might not come to mind when plotting the perfect personal branding strategy.

But just because you’re not thinking of them, doesn’t mean they’re not important.

I’ll show you what I mean through this true life story… my own.  You see, when I’m not helping people to develop their blogs and blogging strategies, I spend a lot of time visiting people’s blogs.  I do this for ideas, for fun… even to gather information in my personal life.  

Now, as many of my reader’s know, I am purchasing a house in a quaint town in Maine where summers are cool and the beaches are clean.  A great place to be year round, actually… from farmers’ markets to those awesome Maine blueberries, to live-catch local lobster, and of course, beautiful beaches.

We nailed down the perfect home for us, not on the beach, but two miles inland where there is no flooding (well, at least very rarely).  It’s a nice little hike or bike ride to the beach for whenever we choose.  

When purchasing a home, many inspections must be conducted in order to find out what goes on inside the house.  My inspector notified me there was a leak from the downstairs bath into the basement. Now, this could translate into a simple task or a major job.  So, we went on an internet search for a plumber.  Mind you, this is a place where we have no connections at all and had to rely solely on the internet to find someone who could inspect the immediate situation, but also that we could build a long-term business relationship with.

On our search, we found many HVAC and plumbers’ websites.  Some had blogs, too.   Right away, we were drawn to those with blogs because they were more conversational and seemed more personal.  Good personal branding, I thought.

Still, there were quite a few who had blogs, so it was a bit difficult deciding which company to go with.  They all said pretty much the same thing, “we’re reliable, we know our business, read our great testimonials, best customer service” etc etc.


We came across one particular plumber that had an FAQ.  We searched and went through the FAQ’s and found one question that we found interesting.


“Just how many office dogs are there at [your office]?”


“Well let’s see…we have Blue, Ozzie, Snowball, Bud, Arlo, Casey, Orvis and our newest little one, Chi-Chi. They are a happy, much loved group of dogs.”


It means that they’re plumbers and heating specialists who are also real live, breathing people.  Not just facts and figures and proper advert talk.

In fact, it “means” nothing at all.  Nothing related to their business or their performance or capabilities or anything else relevant to what we were searching for.

Being dog lovers, we instantly connected on an emotional level.  Because of their subtle but genuine PERSONAL BRANDING, we chose this company.

So what does it mean?  It means that through their personal branding, this company just converted a visitor into a paying customer.  We picked up the phone and scheduled an appointment for them to come estimate the job.

Pretty elaborate personal branding strategy, huh?

Actually, not at all.

I’d actually give their blog a fairly poor rating in terms of building a relationship with their readers.

But one tiny little, insignificant FAQ that was probably just an afterthought that someone on the team scoffed at… that’s what led to this company’s ability to convert us into their paying customers.

What little things could you do on your blog to help build better relationships with your readers, and persuade people to opt-in to your list, register for your event or buy your products and services?

I’d love to hear about your own personal branding strategies in the comments section below.

And don’t forget to share this post with your friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites that you use.

Donna Merrill
Donna is a well known blogger and creator of "Blogging Magic" - an intensive guide to blogging. "Blogging Magic" is for beginners who are trying to figure out how to bring their blogs to life with tons of visits, comments and social media interaction. It's even for advanced bloggers looking to reach new levels of authority and engagement with their audience.


52 Responses to Personal Branding | A True Life Story

  1. Willena Flewelling
    July 14, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    I love the way you chose your plumber! What you’re saying is so true. Blogs with only great information are good if that’s what I happen to be looking for. But those that give great info AND the personal touch are so much more inviting. I like to know about people, and the more they share about their family and background, the more interesting they are, and the more I want to go back and visit their blogs again and again.

    I’m glad I learned that a couple of years ago, because when I first started blogging for business, I didn’t think people would want to hear about my family or my struggles. Silly, huh.

    Willena Flewelling recently posted..I’m Not Afraid of Spiders or Mice or SnakesMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill July 19, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      Hi Willena,

      I love reading blogs that give good information and that personal touch because I can resonate with the author.

      It becomes more interesting and I too want to go back and read their blog again.

      Transparency is a wonderful thing. We don’t have to tell all, but touch on a few key points of how we struggled through something and learned a lesson from it. I find it helpful to the reader.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Marketing Lesson From Get ResponseMy Profile

  2. Chery Schmidt
    July 2, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Hey Donna! What an Awesome Story! Branding You Inc is the only way to go. I have changed up my blog a lot in this year and now I am more personable and share my life with others.

    I do believe this is the only way to go. Before I was all about training and I never really shared my life.

    I am happier with the way I am doing things now Donna and I do think this makes a difference on how others perceive me. Does this make sense?

    Hum It is getting late but I am happy that I stayed up to read just yet one more article.
    This is a Great Night cap so to say Thanks for sharing Chery 🙂
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..Celebrate Your Life!My Profile

    • Donna.Merrill July 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

      Hi Chery,

      Yes, I have seen the changes in your blog and I love it! It is so much more personal yet you are sharing great content.


      Donna.Merrill recently posted..What is stopping you?My Profile

  3. Sylviane Nuccio
    July 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    Love, love, love this story and it really goes to tell you that it doesn’t take much to brand ourselves, just being “human”.

    I totally understand how you picked that plumber being a dog lover yourself. There wasn’t anything to do with plumbing, or even his skills as a plumber, but you connected with him on a human level.

    This is what I always teach. Emotion works. It never fails.

    Sorry for being here so late on this post, Donna, but last week was a fiasco. I’m in vacation this week so I’m going to all the blogs 🙂
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..10 Ways You Never Knew Would Make You Write Better And Get More TrafficMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill July 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi Sylviane,

      Yes that’s what I teach also, that Emotion never fails! I did tell them why I chose them to do the job. It perked their interest. So of course, I had them on the phone forever.

      When I get up there we will talk!

      And don’t worry about hitting up all the blogs Sylviane, sometimes you just have to skip a week!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..What is stopping you?My Profile

  4. Viola Tam July 1, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Very interesting read! I agree with you that the plumber you mentioned has this unfair advantage because he is a dog lover. This reminded me of a business success tip that my coach mentioned. He said that rather than appealing to everyone, it would be more beneficial to share our CORE VALUES so that others with the same values would be attracted to us.

    How true! Simple as well. We are who we are. By being our authentic self, we attract others to us.

    Thank you for sharing this insightful blog, Donna!

    Viola Tam – The Business Mum
    Viola Tam recently posted..Stay-at-Home Mums – K for Keep It SimpleMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill July 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Hi Viola,

      Absolutely! We do need to share our CORE VALUES. When people are attracted to that, it is so much easier to do business with them, or just connect.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..What is stopping you?My Profile

  5. Shelley Alexander July 1, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    Donna, Thanks for sharing your story about choosing a plumber based on a personal connection. Branding yourself is so key to how your business is perceived. I think its important to have a professional image along with a mix of personal stories so your potential customers can really get to know you and trust you to help them. Thanks for bringing this out.
    Shelley Alexander recently posted..3-Minute Strawberry Nectarine & Avocado Ice CreamMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill July 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks Shelley,

      I just love sharing stories! And yes, we need a professional image with a personal touch.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..What is stopping you?My Profile

  6. Mary Stephenson
    June 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Hi Donna

    Ah, so the real think you found out was that they were compassionate, well at least about dogs. If they thought as dogs as part of the family business, they might actually care for their customers with the same passion. That is my read on this…

    Out of curiosity, did you tell them why you picked them and that it was not about their website?

    People want to know you have a soft side, compassionate side and really care. I go back to people that care. Such as my real estate man, he will be selling our next house. He always gave us the attention we needed and he acted like we were the most important owner (we sold a fixer upper with him in 2008). He has not lost touch with us and that is pretty awesome. He sends newsletters every month and lets us get to know him and his family.

    Mary Stephenson recently posted..Contemplating The Power of FearMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 30, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Hi Mary,

      Yes, that was the first thing I did. I told them why I picked them. Then I went on with my marketing hat and gave them some ideas of how to improve their website.

      I explained that “know like and trust” factor that made me comfortable and told them to play it up a little more. Since then, we have been in contact and when I finally get there, they want me to spice up their site.


      I also go back to people that care. My car dealer is one of them. He sends me holiday cards, and keeps in touch. My entire family will drive up here just to buy a car from him because he gives that personal touch.

      He calls my step-daughter each year to see how the Toyota he sold her is doing. She purchased that 8 years ago lol.

      It comes down to loyalty!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  7. Nile June 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Every business has its own strategy and own personality. In fact, If I can gauge a person through their website, I am pretty certain they really don’t care at all. They don’t have to give me a ton of facts about their personal life, but they surely need to display their knowledge and passion for what they do.
    Nile recently posted..Ask Nile: When A Company Requests A Negative Review To Be RemovedMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Hey Nile,

      I look for a person’s passion also. I really don’t want to know everything in their life that’s going on, but a little bit of personality goes a long way for me.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  8. Rachel Lavern June 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    Isn’t it interesting what people hone in on? I know that I need to work on making my brand clearer. It is a tad challenging for me to share personal information because I have been ultra private with strangers for as long as I can remember. I tend to give info on a ‘need to know’ basis LOL. I have created a FAQ page on one of my blogs, but I just started populating it. I frequently get comments regarding information that I share on my “Meet Rachel” page that lead people to deal with me (such as piano and being a former IT geek).

    Oh yes…congratulations on your new home!
    Rachel Lavern recently posted..Impatience Makes Us Do Foolish ThingsMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Hi Rachel.

      I think your brand speaks for itself. You have been here a long time and do write great “need to know” posts.

      Sometimes people like a little personal touch. You don’t have to “tell all” but just a tad bit and watch how people respond to you.

      You Rock!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  9. Yorinda June 28, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Hi Donna,
    good to hear that you found a great place that suits you!

    I love the example you provide about personal branding.
    Now I understand it more thanks to your post!

    Yorinda recently posted..Cayenne Pepper may save someones LifeMy Profile

  10. Tonya Stephens June 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Hi Donna,You new home sounds lovely…except for that pesky leak.I like the way you turned your plumbing problem into a conversation on personal branding.I\\\’m fairly new to online marketing but one thing I have learned is to brand yourself.There is an art to it if done the right way…still working on getting all my sites congruent with \\\”The Brand\\\” You are so right that there are many things to take into consideration.One thing I love about the internet is you never know what you say or write online that will connect with someone. I had an opt in the other day and he proceeded to buy many of my affiliate products. I called him to connect and and find out more about him. He told me he read a comment I made on someone\\\’s blog that resonated with him…not even my blog.Go figure!Have a great weekend.Hope your leak is fixed pronto.Tonya

    • Donna.Merrill June 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Great share Tonya!

      This is why I cannot stop telling people how important leaving good comments on blogs are!

      I have received emails and phone calls from a comment I have made on someone’s post.

      Just goes to show how powerful it is in the scheme of things doesn’t it?

      It is all attraction when it comes down to it. I was “attracted” to this specific plumber because of his dogs. Now we have a deal. He gets all my work and I’m talking to him of why I chose him. He is interested now in internet marketing because he was never introduced to it. BAM….I have a client or even better maybe a barter! lol

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  11. Dr. Erica Goodstone
    June 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #


    I love the way you finally chose your plumber. it is not so much the big marketing hype but the emotional connection that leads to the sale.

    I had a branding experience with my new web site, http://www.DrEricaGoodstone.com. On my other sites, I have focused on creating blogs, showcasing my books and books and a few products. Although I have an “About Me,” page, I do not reveal much of my history.

    On my new site, I have a press page which shows (first of all to myself) just how many conferences and events I have been a speaker or workshop leader at. In focusing on building an online business, I had completely forgotten about what I’ve already done. And that is part of branding myself.

    The other piece is sharing and showcasing topics that I have presented and want to present again. These are simple additions to my site that are making a huge difference in my personal branding.


    Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted..Leave Your Comfort Zone – Success Does Not WaitMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

      Your new site is WONDERFUL Erica!

      I like it because on the front page you have the video which explains EXCACTLY what you specialize in.

      You have a specific niche you deal with and I just love it because so many people have relationship problems.

      I imagine sometimes that if more people went for help, they would be leading happier lives. You are the go to person to do that my friend.

      I just love the new look and branding of your site.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  12. Arleen
    June 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    The key point for me in this article was relating to this company on a personal level and not the untouchable level. They were real people. With that said, being a dog lover, it would have gotten to me as well as I think it takes an unselfish person to have an animal in their lives. I think building a common ground is what makes people trust you. When people ask me how I got started in my business of selling promotional products and I tell them my story, I hear over and over again, You go Girl. Not to bore you with the details, when I started my internet business back in the early 90’s at the age of 50, promotional products was a man’s business. Sixteen years later and counting, a woman owned business is thriving. I guess when people hear my story and my age they feel comfortable in doing business with me. I have always been a no nonsense kind of a person, so I guess that is my personal branding.
    Arleen recently posted..Become one of the Flying Wallendas for Your BusinessMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Hi Arleen,

      Thanks for sharing your story! I am also a no nonsense person myself. Yes, I’m older and have been on line 3 years now.

      Before that, I was and still am running my other business. The way I see it is that once we are transparent, and have no “hang ups” about where we started, our age, etc. It really doesn’t matter.

      Being honest goes a long way.

      Yes, You Go Girl!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  13. Nate Leung
    June 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    The more I learn about business (in general), the more I realize that branding plays such a vital role in growing a business from the ground up. I am also starting to realize that branding is everything. The saying goes, “People buy people, not companies”. It’s very true! Like you were doing, you search for right plumbers because you envision yourself working the plumber to see if he’s a fit for what you need done. Also on a quick note, when I look at Oprah, her brand is great. It’s amazing to look back and see what her brand has brought her in during her career. Thanks again for the awesome information.

    • Donna.Merrill June 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Hi Nate!

      Yes, branding is an integral part of our business. No matter what we are doing, we do need to brand ourselves and give a “personal touch.”

      When I don’t see that, I just feel like it is a stagnant page that just wants to sell something. Yes, people do buy people like me and my plumber.

      I just had to illustrate how in everyday life, we need to be “out there” because you just never know who is looking to follow you.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  14. Neamat Tawadrous
    June 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    Lovely post about Personal Branding Donna. I loved reading your story about how you found the plumber.

    In my case, I am trying to add my personal touch to my posts but I am still learning about personal branding the right way and the unique way. I am exploring to craft a USP for my niche so I can stand out using it. It is all still work in progress. Lots of research to try and find my unique spot so I can personally brand myself to that specific spot.

    Thanks Donna for sharing such a great true story as a great example for Personal Branding. Have a great week ahead.

    Be Blessed,


    • Donna.Merrill June 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      That is awesome Neamat!

      Fine tuning your USP is such a great idea. I know it is difficult….I’m working on mine also. I too feel the need to do the same thing to stand out in the crowd.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  15. Liz
    June 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Great story Donna but also one that hits home for me.

    I’m someone that puts a lot of emphasis on the people behind the business when I’m looking for services. Some people laugh but a small point about whether or not they love dogs says a lot about their character. For someone who does not love dogs they probably wouldn’t care, so for them it would be a different characteristic.

    It all boils down to giving your customers a real glimpse of YOU. Personal branding does that for you, and from one person to another that can mean a lot.

    Thanks for the great insight 🙂
    Liz recently posted..8 Tips For Sticking To A Blog Post ScheduleMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Hi Liz,

      Agreed. I always feel that if someone is a dog lover, it does say a lot about their character…even those cat lovers lol!

      Giving a little part of ourselves ALWAYS works fine when it comes to branding or attraction marketing.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  16. Angela McCall
    June 25, 2013 at 5:42 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Wow…8 dogs!!! I’m a dog lover but not sure I can keep up with 8. LOL

    As far as branding is concerned, this is still new to me. I guess ever since I started blogging I keep hearing this word in people’s blog but doesn’t really comprehend it.

    I understand the company’s image. Logo brand. Trade Mark. But branding? I guess this is the personality of your company. Sort of kinda trademark. Btw, I actually personalize my About Me page with the photo of me holding my poodle. At first, I thought it was a kinda informal but this is a blog and I don’t mind making it personal even if I know there might be the possibility that Channel 30 might be checking out my page. Guess I don’t mind being different.

    Anyway, its getting really late here. Its 2:40 AM and so I bid you goodnight and hope you have a great week!!

    Angela McCall recently posted..Scared Of BloggingMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

      Hi Angela,

      I’m so glad you personalize your blog holding your poodle in your About Me section. It shows love, and caring in one’s personality. It’s not informal at all! You are not a corporation, but have your own business.

      Just think of this: A CEO of a huge corporation that is in every trade magazine. People get curious. Does he have a dog? Is he married? On and on.

      I’m a dog lover and this clinched my deal with them under the FAQ section of their website. Because I have to do everything online being so far away, I need to know as much about who I’m hiring as possible.

      They are a small plumbing company that needs to be up to date on the latest trends. I’m talking to the guys lol

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  17. Mayura
    June 25, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Something in common, eh? Isn’t it wonderful!

    Now that’s food for thoughts. Sometimes I wonder how businesses attract their clients with not-so-popular methodologies. May be it’s just a simple personal touch turns a visitor into a customer even they are terrible with other aspects. I’ve come to know that some popular businesses solely survive with word-of-mouth marketing and even don’t have a social media presence 😉

    Well, I’m not sure about how my personal branding goes Donna 🙂 But I believe it’s not what I talk about but what I really do and capable of. As I mentioned in David’s post, I’ve got clients via my blog even I’m not blogging for business and I assume my personal branding worked out there 🙂 I think being ourselves will allow right people to reach out.

    You have a lovely week over there dear 🙂

    Mayura recently posted..Embed Social Updates in Your Posts and Articles with SocialDittoMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 27, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

      Hi Mayura,

      Your blog SCREAMS personal branding! Each week I look forward to another lesson form you my teacher and friend.

      You don’t have to sell because you attract so many people that appreciate your knowledge.

      If I ever needed any help or if a friend did, YOU pop up in my mind.

      As for blogs and websites that are stagnant like the one I visited, the people there have no idea how powerful interaction with their customers can be. Hey…I’m talking to them lol

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  18. Barbara Charles
    June 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Hi Donna,
    I love your personal branding story. It always amazing me when you can connect with someone/strangers on a personal level. I’ve got friends that I’ve never met but through our personal branding we connected. T?hat’s a great thing.

    I’m also curious some of the stories that others tell of personal branding as I would love to see how to help increase personal branding from our websites. Would also love to read others stories.

    How exciting and I can’t wait to see others. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Good luck with the new home,
    Barbara Charles recently posted..Attention Aspiring Bloggers – Worst End of School Year Mom EverMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Hey Barbara!

      I’ve met so many people on line just from Personal Branding. It is like the Law of Attraction on speed he he.

      We get to “pull in” like minded people and from there anything can happen!

      It is the way we write and your blog shares a lot of your own experiences which “brands” you well.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  19. Corina Ramos June 24, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Wonderful post Donna. That’s the way to get your customers…by personalizing it.

    As a sales manager I would coach my reps to personalize their conversations. If the customer had a poodle so did they or an aunt, just to find that personal ground and makes it easy to transition to the sales pitch.

    Your question made me stop and think. I don’t have a personal brand. But I do personalize my blogging and interactions. When I write or reply to comments I type as if I’m having lunch and chatting with a group of girlfriends.

    And the way you describe your new house in Maine sounds breathtaking! Have a great week Donna 🙂
    Corina Ramos recently posted..Monday Work from Home Job Lead Madness 062413My Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      Hi Corina,

      I think you have a good brand “Work from home concepts” is a great way of branding. And you do personalize your blogs well.

      Your commenting is awesome and remember People Read Comments. So the better the comment the more inspired folks will come to your blog to see what you are all about!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  20. David Haines June 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Hi Donna, what a great article. Very good tip on the FAQ. I can definitely use that on my blog.

    One of the important things that I’ve found with helping people to brand themselves besides the obvious; Picture, Header, Theme, etc. is to really plan and think about WHAT they write about. What they post. HOW they convey their message. Those things are just as important towards building a brand. Also, consistency across platforms and their message is critical.

    Again Donna, great post and insight. I love it when real life translates into our business strategy.

    Warmest Regards,

    David Haines
    David Haines recently posted..Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia NelsonMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 25, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Hi David!

      Great seeing you! Yes, I’m going to do the same thing on my blog once everything settles down. Live and learn!

      It is important that people are mindful of what they write and how to convey their message. And of course consistency is a key component!

      We need to reveal ourselves in a transparent way so people can resonate with us.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  21. Adrienne
    June 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Ah, personal branding one of my favorite topics.

    I can totally see why you’d go with that plumber after seeing that in the FAQ Donna. I’m not sure if I would have gone that far to search that area since I don’t usually search for businesses like that online. Now since you’re moving to a new state not knowing anyone there I can totally see why that would be necessary.

    I definitely connect with people more when I feel like they’re a real live person. Now I know everyone online is a real person mind you but so many of them hide behind the computer and write like a robot. Who the heck can relate to that!

    One of my first mentors I connected with online had a dog. Her picture on her blog was of she and her dog. I was just drawn to her because of that and every video that she shot the dog was either in her lap or close by. She told me back then to let people see you’re real.

    Now some of my videos Kayla is walking in the background and it’s really funny but on my training site my main video I let everyone know that you just might hear her going off during one of my videos. Just a warning because that’s how life is at the Smith household.

    I tend to lean toward animal lovers too since I can’t connect on the level of kids. So letting them know who you are is important and you don’t have to tell your whole life story. But when we see you’re real just like me I definitely can relate so much more.

    Thanks for sharing this story Donna and I definitely didn’t make it by here first thing this morning. Oh well, such is life.

    Hey, have a good week and hope to see you Wednesday!

    Adrienne recently posted..Goodbye Google Reader and Hello FeedlyMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      Hi Adrienne!

      After doing more business with other folks beside this plumber, I did rely on the internet first, then called and had conversations with the attorney, the radon man, the movers, etc.

      It was all from the information I first received from their websites. Maybe it is just my bias of doing so much on line, but that’s how I was weeding services out.

      Just for a “test” I contacted some folks that had terrible websites and you know what? They were the cut and dry kind of business people I didn’t hire.

      Well, this is a fine example of how we live our lives today and what we need to keep our eye on for our own business.

      Because of this, I am going to set up an FAQ on my blog once all this moving is over.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  22. Robin J Emdon June 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    What a very good read! It does sound like those plumbers really did NOT know what they were doing when it comes to designing a blog, however, the lesson you have drawn from it, is priceless! And yes, absolutely, perhaps they’ll read your blog too and sharpen up their technique! LOL

    Robin J Emdon recently posted..Free Blog Setup – What a Crazy Cool Idea That Frees You Up to Make Money!My Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

      HE HE Robin!

      I did mention to them I chose them because of the FAQ. And of course, I had to do a little “pitch” Hmm they said. But we have been in touch several times since then.

      Who knows? They are not bloggers, but I just love to get an off-line business and make it Rock!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  23. sherman smith June 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    Wow, that is very unique to use this type of branding. Yes, there are a lot of businesses and blogs that put out a lot facts and figures and forget that they’re dealing with people.

    Nothing will connect with your customers more than showing your human qualities. We are all unique in our own way, but there is a oneness that’s shared by all of us. If we can show this through our blogs, then definitely we will get more readers.

    Once in a while I will talk about my hobbies, going out with friends, and hanging out with family on holidays. People can definitely relate to this and give positive responses to it. You can definitely find not only clients and/or business partners, but also you can develop great friendships from doing this.

    Thanks Donna for the share!

    • Donna.Merrill June 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

      Hi Sherman,

      You are absolutely right! We need to share our human qualities for people to get to know us better. Sharing a story, or an event in our lives is so important.

      Because I’m moving 8 hours away, I had to rely on contacting people I don’t know at all. When I hit this particular website, I was drawn in because of the dogs. I felt like it was a friendly caring place.

      After speaking to them and hiring we had phone conversations and by gosh, they were friendly folks.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  24. Silviu June 24, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Hi Donna,

    This “personal branding” thing is new to me. I am learning … . I agree that adding a personal touch to your blog helps. For the moment I am still on that level where I need to tweak headers, titles, images etc.
    An ebook on this subject would be an excellent idea.

    What a complicated and sophisticated society (the American one)! So many rules to learn, so many things to pay attention to, common practices, best practices, terms of use, privacy… . Then there are those “minor” things with major implications… . It’s very time consuming to learn all this stuff.
    In my opinion personal branding is an art. Those who master it will become enormously rich.

    Thank you for the post

    Have a nice day
    Silviu recently posted..How to Test Your Homepage in 5 SecondsMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      Hi Silviu,

      Oh that “American Society thing” – as long as you stay away from politics you are OK.

      Personal branding to me is not an art, but merely revealing little things about yourself. Just like the dog lover example.

      I think it is more difficult for men than woman – there I said it and maybe it is not PC, but it is my own observation.

      It is true that women can easily chat more than men. Just observe people at a get together. Men are talking about cars, sports, etc. It is more difficult for them to reveal emotions.

      Then observe women. They can chat endlessly about just about anything. It comes easy for them. Society gives women the green light on that one.

      For men, society usually makes it difficult for them to share emotions.

      OK I’ll stop my rant, but can tell you this: An easy way to personalize is to share something like “here is what I found that works for me and then talk about the subject. A little injection of personal stuff will go a long way.

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  25. Sue Price
    June 24, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    Hi Donna

    I see that Harleena was first again as she said and I am second which seems to be a pattern. I wonder if we are the only two awake when you post 🙂

    I love that dog story. Me too being a dog lover. We had a dog friendly office in Sydney too.

    I think it is an awesome question. I would love to know though if they got any customers who do not like dogs. Maybe that is who they are trying to weed out 🙂

    My personal branding strategies have been really around just building relationships. I have only been online three years and prior to that our businesses were around a company and not me. I have therefore found the “me” thing very different.

    Still finding my way to some extent.

    Thanks Donna for a great story. Ah my post tomorrow is on this topic – storytelling.

    Have a wonderful week.

    Sue Price recently posted..Financial Intelligence For Your BusinessMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 24, 2013 at 10:11 am #

      Hi Sue!

      I think you and Harleena are always in the front line because I post on Sunday evening my time and it is already Monday your time lol.

      Oh I think you already have it Sue! Everyone knows your impressive background and appreciates it. From your Corporate experience to working with Guy Kawasaki! Now that is some branding girl!

      Oh boy I cannot wait to read your “storytelling” blog!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

  26. Harleena Singh
    June 24, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Ah…I see that I’m the first one to comment here yet again, even though I’m travelling and just got my Internet connection back for a few hours before we travel again to a place where we might be without access 🙂

    I loved to read through your story and could well understand what you meant by personal branding. I think I too would have chosen these same people just because of that one question about dogs they put up, which added a personal touch to the whole thing.

    Speaking of myself, I think I would just go out and build relationships with people and the readers of my blog by being myself, and being true in whatever I share, or answer honestly to whatever I’m asked. But I wouldn’t do this to gain anything from them, nor build my email list as I don’t believe in that ways of winning people over, though if they opt in, I’d be grateful and even if they don’t it’s perfectly alright.

    I’ve often observed that when we touch people’s heart through our posts or talks, they are able to relate to us much better, and perhaps that might be a reason that a few subscribers keep trickling in daily, and that’s good enough for me.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted..Anger: Why You Feel It And What To Do About ItMy Profile

    • Donna.Merrill June 24, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      Hi Harleena,

      Now you are first again even on your vacation!

      Working from a distance was a chore, but when I poked around and seen that they had an FAQ plus the dogs, well it won my heart over. Are they better than the next guy? Who knows! I’m a dog person and if they are too, we connect!

      Although I couldn’t leave a comment on their website, I told them over the phone why I chose them. Maybe food for thought? lol

      When we have that personal touch with our readers, something will connect. It is kind of like the Law of Attraction to me. I want to work with people that are mostly on the same page as I am.

      Now, if these guys hated dogs, they could never work for me because I have three fur babies!

      Donna.Merrill recently posted..Personal Branding | A True Life StoryMy Profile

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